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ASU offers online early childhood program

July 02, 2008
With a change in certification requirements looming for Arizona’s kindergarten teachers, the education colleges at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic, Tempe and West campuses are collaborating to offer an online program enabling teachers to add an early childhood endorsement to their elementary education or special education teaching certificate while earning a master’s degree.

Starting in July 2009, teachers in public school pre-kindergarten and kindergarten settings must possess an early childhood certificate or endorsement to meet new Arizona Department of Education requirements. Currently, Arizona teachers with an elementary education certificate are eligible to teach kindergarten. That eligibility ends in July 2009 for those without an early childhood endorsement.

ASU is the only university in Arizona offering a program to address this situation for working teachers.

“Across urban and rural areas of the state, there are kindergarten teachers who will be ineligible to continue in their current positions unless they meet this new requirement,” says Mari Koerner, dean of the College of Teacher Education and Leadership. “ASU’s online program enables these teachers to stay on the job while they earn the early childhood endorsement.”

The ASU program, leading to a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an early childhood education concentration, begins Aug. 25 with the start of the fall 2008 semester. Teachers who start this August and successfully complete program requirements will meet the July 2009 deadline and remain eligible to teach kindergarten. (They also must pass the early childhood subject knowledge portion of the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment.)

Following a one-day, on-site orientation at the beginning of each semester, coursework will be delivered completely online. After taking online classes in the fall 2008 and spring 2009 semesters, teachers will complete a supervised four-week practicum in a pre-kindergarten setting during the summer of 2009.

Additional coursework in the fall of 2009 completes requirements for the master’s degree. Teachers who already have earned a master’s degree may choose not to take the final semester’s coursework if they do not desire to obtain a second master’s.

Teachers will enroll through the Polytechnic, Tempe, or West campus of ASU depending on where they wish to be placed for their summer pre-kindergarten practicum experience. Placements will be available in public, private and charter schools as well as private early childhood programs in all 15 of Arizona’s counties, so that teachers around the state will not have to travel long distances to meet the practicum requirement.

“This cross-campus initiative embodies President Michael Crow’s vision of one university in many places,” says Elaine Surbeck, associate dean for teacher education in the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education. “Early childhood education faculty throughout ASU worked together to meet the needs of teachers not only in metropolitan Phoenix but around the state.”

Adds Billie Enz, early childhood program coordinator in the School of Educational Innovation and Teacher Preparation, “We have made the program even more attractive to public-school teachers because it also leads to a master’s degree, enabling them to advance on their school district’s salary scale. This serves as an incentive for talented, experienced teachers to remain on the job and help educate Arizona’s future leaders.”

While the need for an early childhood endorsement is most pressing for kindergarten teachers, achieving the endorsement can benefit any teacher wishing to focus on teaching in pre-kindergarten through third grade. The new ASU master’s program will develop teachers’ knowledge of a range of subjects, including emergent literacy, developmental and functional assessment of young children, and mathematics in early childhood education.

Teachers interested in pursuing the program are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible. Admission requirements include possession of a bachelor’s degree and an Arizona elementary education or special education teaching certificate, along with submission of university transcripts and proof of measles immunization. (Additional supporting documents may be required of applicants with less than a “B” average in the last 60 semester hours of their bachelor’s degree program.)

The School of Educational Innovation and Teacher Preparation at ASU’s Polytechnic campus will supervise practicum experiences in the following school districts/counties:

- Maricopa County (East Valley districts: Apache Junction, east Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Higley, J.O. Combs, Queen Creek)

- Gila County

- Pinal County

- Apache County

- Navajo County

Contact: Billie Enz, or (480) 283-0311.

The Mary Lou Fulton College of Education at ASU’s Tempe campus will supervise practicum experiences in the following school districts/counties:

- Maricopa County (Central Valley districts: Balsz, Cave Creek, Creighton, Isaac, Kyrene, west Mesa, Murphy, Osborn, Paradise Valley, Phoenix Elementary, Roosevelt, Scottsdale, Tempe, Wilson)

- Pima County

- Santa Cruz County

- Cochise County

- Graham County

- Greenlee County

Contact: Beth Swadener, or (480) 965-1452.

The College of Teacher Education and Leadership at ASU’s West campus will supervise practicum experiences in the following school districts/counties:

- Maricopa County (West Valley districts: Alhambra, Buckeye, Cartwright, Deer Valley, Dysart, Fowler, Glendale, Liberty, Litchfield, Littleton, Madison, Pendergast, Peoria, Surprise, Tolleson, Washington)

- La Paz County

- Mohave County

- Yavapai County

- Coconino County

- Yuma County

Contact: Nancy Perry, or (480) 421-1718.